Today’s “Generous Soul” post is about my dear friend Sofia—who, back when we were ten, told me that ballet dancers do not wear underpants under their tights. I could write a million different "generous soul" posts about Sofia. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.
Sofia and I have one of those ESP friendships in which we’ll email suddenly out of the blue or one of us will have a dream about the other, only to find out that something great or terrible (and sometimes, terribly great) has happened. It's eerie and cool and kind of what happens with close friends.
This story is about our second summer together at SFB. Specifically, it is about the boring Saturday night when we decided to take the 29 Sunset to the doughnut shop in the Richmond and then, instead of getting off at the dorms after a successful doughnut heist, we decided to stay on the bus.
If you are familiar with San Francisco, you already know three very important things that set the tension in the previous paragraph.
1) The 29 Sunset is the longest bus route in SF MUNI system
2) The 29 Sunset goes near Candlestick Park
3) Candlestick Park is in a VERY BAD neighborhood
It wasn’t long before Sofia and I also learned these three things about San Francisco.
To sum up: it’s a twenty-minute bus ride from the Outer Richmond to Stonestown, three hours if you take the route through Candlestick Park and back.
Yes, we noticed that white people got off and people in various shades of brown got on. But that wasn’t our clue that we didn’t belong. The clue came from the people who boarded the bus. The very fact that they noticed us at all told us that we should be there in the first place. We were outsiders in transit.
Sofia and I sat as close as we could to the bus driver. In those days you could sit right behind the driver’s seat, close enough to touch the hem of his garment. We knew that in a strange neighborhood at night, the bus was the safest place possible--even if each stop closer to Candlestick meant that it would be that much longer before we got home.
We should teach our children that conversations begin with the eyes. And that if you don’t want to talk, just don’t look at anyone. Then again, even if nobody tells you, it’s the sort of thing that one can figure out by herself on the 29 Sunset on a crowded Saturday night.
“What are they doing here?” the eyes asked as boarded the bus. Every two blocks, more eyes on board.
“We didn’t mean to be.” We bowed over our bag of doughnuts and answered with the backs of our heads.
“I going to kill you,” Sofia told me. Or maybe she only thought it. I didn’t look her in the eye.